Extremes of Life, and death
It started out to be the greatest day with so much to be proud and happy about for my sweet 91-year-old daddy,my husband Wesley and I had worked so long, over 10 years to get his justly deserved veteran’s disability pay from World War II. Pfc. Henry “Bud” Tarver fought in the three campaigns, the Siegfried Line, the Battle of the Bulge, the Roer, the crossing of the Rhine all the way to River Elbe, with The 84th Division “The Railsplitters” he received three Bronze Stars one for each battle. He also won the Combat Infantry Badge. To be awarded the CIB, infantrymen, including officers, had to demonstrate exemplary conduct in action against the enemy in a major operation as determined and announced by the theater commanders.
In 1963 daddy was admitted to the V.A.hospital for about a year. Afterwards he was paid 32.00 per month all the years since, until today! Now he is 200% disabled from World War II. 100% PTSD and 100% for trench foot, twice, loss of hearing, and a badly dislocated shoulder, from falling through a rotten part of a bridge with his rifle and full back pack while they were running at night advancing under enemy fire.
Now he is awarded a large increase in monthly pay. The only low point was he was awarded only 11 months back pay. Can you feel our exhilarating happiness of this wonderful day?
We had so much to celebrate this beautiful spring day, April 15, 2014. We arrived at daddy’s home to pick him and his wife Lillian up mid morning. We had so much to do this day.We went to the bank, signing papers, having them notarized, then we mailed them to the Veteran’s Administration. It was at the post office, when we parked in a long line, “Income Tax Day” and Wesley ran inside to send dad’s papers, certified mail. The last paper work to start his oh so long overdue (since 1963) increase in pay each month.
I remember thinking I had never seen Lillian so happy, smiling and laughing about our shopping trip, listing the new things she wanted for their home. I will always remember the new curtains for their living room, she wanted first of all.
Finally Wesley opened the car door and said “let’s eat! Are all of you ready to celebrate our winning the long battle for justice?” Lillian was first to say, “Lets eat at the Cedar Tree, that’s our favorite, and I am starving!”
We had taken them to eat their many times.It was about 1:30 in the afternoon so the rush was over and the buffet food was still fresh.
I always helped Lillian in the buffet line, and Wesley helped dad,as he is legally blind.I was first in line and had pick up a slice of coconut pie. While watching her trying to decide what food she wanted,I told her I’ll set this on our table and help you decide. I rushed right around the corner to the first table…I heard the most horrifying loud cracking sound, heard my husband loudly telling someone to call 911, we need an ambulance now!I looked on the cement floor where Lillian was lying, blood covering a large area around the back of her head, Wesley was on the floor by her, holding her hand, talking trying to keep her calm. Daddy knew something was bad wrong with her, they brought him a chair to sit in while waiting for the ambulance.I remember thinking I was glad he could not see. I fell totally apart!My knees went out, someone caught me and sit me in a chair. I remember something put under my nose bringing me back to this nightmare of blood now all over the floor. Poor Lillian was jerking and trying to get up but couldn’t. Wesley ask for more towels to help absorb the blood, Where was the ambulance, He yelled. I wanted to help him, and to comfort Lillian, and daddy. I was in the blood and now also ” mixed with a clear liquid” on my knees when seeing my face, my husband ask me to go back out and sit down. He knew how close I was to passing out again, and I did. Everyone was so kind to me, but it was Lillian I knew was dying! It had been 35 minutes since the call for help. Someone called again, this time they were told the hospital ambulance was out on a call and they were waiting for an independent one to come. Finally 2 people came in with a board with straps to help her. They couldn’t keep her still enough to put her on the board but she was getting much weaker, and I knew she was dying! Finally one hour and 3 minutes later they carried her out the door. Wesley helped daddy and I into our car to follow them to the hospital. But they did not even start the ambulance, we watched in horror as it jumped up and down for 20 minutes. Again I was glad daddy couldn’t see. Then it drove slowly to the hospital. We waited in the waiting room while they worked on her in the ER, Finally they let us back to see her, she was not alive when she arrived, but surprisingly the doctor got a shallow breath, they put her on life support and she was life-flighted to Beaumont hospital.Her two sons, grandchildren and other close family members spent time with her. And with my 92-year-old daddy holding her hand on Friday April 18th, after three days, they had them remove the life support.
Daddy spent 170 days straight fighting, in bloody horror, watching his buddies die, and killing the enemies that were trying to destroy him! Now on the day he is finally recognized for all that he gave in World War II, he is giving the worst pain of his life ,losing his wife of 12 years, with him helplessly standing by.
Daddy had paid for their funerals years before. But the stress of making final arrangements with daddy being with us was so painful, sad and hard. I had not slept at all since Tuesday the 15th, we had her viewing on Monday the 21st, The funeral was Tuesday the 22nd of April 10:30 AM, and burial was in Broaddus Cemetery, San Augustine County, Texas.
That week had been so surreal I didn’t feel like myself, I couldn’t feel anything, But with my siblings taking care of daddy, we went home starting that night I went to bed and slept for days, not even getting out of bed except to eat and bath.
I have studied family history for many years. I have copies of many direct line ancestors’ death certificates, but this extremes of life and death experience has really taught me how fragile our lives truly are. It can be over in the blink of the eye, without even a goodbye! As we all know Money isn’t everything. Tomorrow will be one year since that day, I know for sure I’ll never be the same, and I could never bring myself to buy those new curtains for their living room.